Okay. I want to talk about the update and your philosophy, about what drove you to do a big, free update. In-app purchases are becoming a big deal.
DM: So that was interesting. We released Infinity Blade on December 9th. It had no in-app purchases or whatever; just a straight-up game. Interestingly enough, right when we put out the game, we were getting thousands of emails, and they were pretty much split between "Yay! We love the game. We want more of it," and "Why can't we buy gold? Why can't I buy gold to buy more swords and more shields and more stuff? Because I don't want to have to just play the game."
That was a foreign concept to me. I didn't understand how prevalent that mindset was in the marketplace.
So, right when we shipped the game, we started working on a small, free update for Christmas, adding new swords, and a new enemy, and stuff like that. We're like, "Let's put it in. We're experimenting with the marketplace; let's see what happens."
So we put in the ability to purchase gold; that came two weeks after launch. We're like, "No one's gonna buy this," Because we didn't balance the game that way. And, I mean, we didn't change the balancing when we put in the ability to buy gold. Just play the game for a few hours and you'll have more gold than you can spend.
But as soon as we put that out, we started selling thousands and thousands of bags of gold a day! That was really kind of eye-opening to us as to the kind of mentality that's developing and how people want to consume their games on these devices. That was pretty shocking to us.
But, from the free update side, Infinity Blade's popular enough, and selling so consistently, that we thought, "Actually, we could put out an update and sell it for 99 cents or 3 dollars or something; but we're interested in building a community." We thought that, if we support the game for several months with significant, meaningful content, what will happen is people will not only feel good about their initial purchase but will tell more people about it. It seems like this is absolutely a word-of-mouth... We had Apple touting us a lot, which was nice, but we didn't spend any marketing money on this.
LM: We did a little. I think there were a few banners on GameSpot.
DM: But that's... almost no marketing. So we're trying to find strategies that can build. We want to have millions of people invested in Chair and what we're doing. We feel like the goodwill of our users is probably our most valuable commodity, and so we spend a lot of money and a lot of time just building more content -- and it seems to work.
We put out this huge update yesterday, and we're right back up at the top of the charts, meaning we're selling a lot of copies to new people. I have to think that's, in part, because of the goodwill we're building, and we'll continue doing that as long as it's successful.
LM: Ours is more about value. Even at $5.99, Infinity Blade is already the best value on iTunes. We increase that value by giving more content.
DM: No, you're right; and that's part of the philosophy. How do we get the value of the game to the tipping point, where everybody who has one of these devices wants to have this product?
Something I'm picking up on is that the consoles don't support these kinds of fast updates, free updates, and in-app purchases, the kind of things that iOS supports, right? If you had the ability -- and you can't do this for cert reasons, contractual reasons -- if you could add a whole new level to Shadow Complex, I bet you'd want to, but you're constrained.
DM: Absolutely. You're totally hitting it on the head. The ease with which we can do this -- all of the things you just said are totally true. The face that we can put in new content and adjust quickly to what the market's doing is key.
Even in this update, little things, like we've noticed some players on the iPad don't think the dodge buttons are big enough. We're like, "Well, we think they're a good size, but some people don't; so let's put in a little slider where they can just change the size of the button." We put that in, update it, and it's out, quick; people are happy. It'd be very, very challenging to do that on retail, traditional games.
SH: And we've got stuff on the Epic forums. We read through some of the reviews that we see on iTunes, and we get emails all the time from fans saying, "Hey, we really like the game. We'd like to see this in it" kind of stuff. As all that stuff comes in, we consider it, and some of it goes into our task list.
DM: It's empowering to us, and it's empowering to the consumer. The ease with which we can do it is the lessening of the barrier; that means that we can do it frequently.
Do you think that the console makers need to start supporting those kinds of things to stay competitive with changing gamer expectations?
DM: Yeah, this is an eye-opener for me, having not had this kind of experience before. Now, kind of living through it and working through it and seeing a lot of the advantages of it, I think that the things that are happening in the social space and the handheld space are going to completely change the way we look at console games moving forward.
I think in five years the console games will look very, very different than they do now, and it will be because of the work that's happening in these spaces and the agile -- I think "agile" is probably the right word -- just the agile way that the market's developing.
SH: And it's going very fast. Last generation was the first game generation where you could even patch console games on the Xbox. Before that, once it was in the box, it was done. It's just changing very rapidly.
DM: I think that the market will demand it, and that's inevitable at this point.